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Child nutrition, child health, and school enrollment : a longitudinal analysis

  • Alderman, Harold
  • Behrman, Jere R.
  • Lavy, Victor
  • Menon, Rekha

Better health and nutrition are thought to improve children's performance in school, and therefore their productivity after school. Most literature ignores the fact that child health and schooling reflect behavioral choices, so the estimated impact of health and nutrition on a child's schooling reflects biases in the studies. Using an explicit dynamic model for preferred estimates, the authors use longitudinal data to investigate how children's health and nutrition affect school enrollment in rural Pakistan. They use price shocks when children were of preschool age to control for behavior determining the measure of children's health and nutrition stock. The authors find that children's health and nutrition is three times more important for enrollment than is suggested by"naive estimates"that assume that children's health and nutrition is predetermined rather that determined by household choices. Not only does improved nutrition increase enrollments, it does so more for girls, thus closing a portion of the gender gap. These results strongly reinforce the importance of using estimation methods that are consistent with the economic theory of households to explore the impact of some choice variables on others, using socioeconomic behavioral data. Private behaviors and public policies that affect the health and nutrition of children have much greater effect on school enrollment and on eventual productivity than suggested by early literature methods.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 1700.

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Date of creation: 31 Jan 1997
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1700
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  1. Murphy, Kevin M & Topel, Robert H, 2002. "Estimation and Inference in Two-Step Econometric Models," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(1), pages 88-97, January.
  2. Behrman, Jere R. & Foster, Andrew D. & Rosenzweig, Mark R., 1997. "The dynamics of agricultural production and the calorie-income relationship: Evidence from Pakistan," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 187-207, March.
  3. Deolalikar, Anil B, 1988. "Nutrition and Labor Productivity in Agriculture: Estimates for Rural South India," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 70(3), pages 406-13, August.
  4. Jere R. Behrman & Ryan Schneider, 1993. "An International Perspective on Pakistani Human Capital Investments in the Last Quarter Century," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 32(1), pages 1-68.
  5. Schultz, T.P., 1990. "Returns To Women'S Education," Papers 603, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  6. Glewwe, P. & Jacoby, H., 1993. "Delayed Primary School Enrollment and Childhood Malnutrition in Ghana, an Economic Analysis," Papers 98, World Bank - Living Standards Measurement.
  7. Behrman, Jere R, 1996. "The Impact of Health and Nutrition on Education," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 11(1), pages 23-37, February.
  8. Jamison, Dean T., 1986. "Child malnutrition and school performance in China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 299-309, March.
  9. Moock, Peter R. & Leslie, Joanne, 1986. "Childhood malnutrition and schooling in the Terai region of Nepal," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 33-52.
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